The Reason Why You Can’t Stop Watching the Video of “How to Make Ice Cream Churro Bowls”

Chocolate Cream Cheese Stuffed Monkey Bread. Biscuits and Gravy Bake. Pesto asparagus and sun-dried tomato pasta. Go ahead, take a second to pause and stop drooling before continuing on. It’s a fact: we’re helplessly addicted to Tasty videos.

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Just because we could all use another cheese pull in our lives

Maybe it’s because as college students, we justify our obsession by convincing ourselves that watching another video will make us the next Gordon Ramsey in our dorm room. Or maybe we’re trying to get some inspiration for our next Trader Joe’s run. Or maybe you’re just really bored reading this blog post that you need a break. Regardless, Tasty videos are an epidemic, and for good reason.

The Rise to Visual Dominance

Tasty, a Buzzfeed subsidiary, has built an empire off of quick recipe tutorial video clips. The key to the video is the overhead angle coupled with a pair of hands gracefully preparing the food, as if performing some sort of dance. Ashley McCollum, Tasty GM, explained that this angle is key:

“It’s your hands; it feels like you’re cooking it. It’s a totally different point of view than we’ve seen in the rest of the food-media space. The psychology is a really interesting question. When you are holding your phone and looking [at] it and it feels like it’s your hands, that is a big factor in why you feel connected to the media. We didn’t invent the top-down format, but the combination of that plus the way we think about media—which is social—and then plus food has created this amazing combination.”

Tasty is just a little over 2 years old, yet makes some of the most popular digital media. “Sliders 4 Ways” is one of its most popular videos, with over 3.1 million views.

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Need I say more?

And while these videos might just look like a fun hobby, they’re highly profitable. Rather than relying on other platforms like Facebook or Instagram to distribute and tailor advertisements for them, Tasty can create the ad content themselves. By partnering with brands, they can create sponsored content that looks just like any other recipe video that they would release. Newell Brands made a sponsored Tasty video for a jalapeno and cheese-stuffed burger cooked on an Oster grill. The video caused the grill to immediately sell out on both Amazon and Target after it was shared more than 1 million times. This seamless integration of the food and beverage industry is key and is just one of the many reasons why Tasty is so successful.

The Key to Dominating Digital Content

The primary driver behind Tasty’s success today is the control of the “content pipe.” The goal for most brands on social media is to try to drive traffic to their own website. Facebook is just a means of acquiring the customer, but the end goal is peaking the customer’s interest enough to direct them away from Facebook. Tasty does the opposite. Its content is purposely made to stay inside of Facebook. By leveraging its autoplay functionality, speeding up the video, and not requiring sound in the video, they immediately reel the viewer in. With only a second to grab a user while they scroll through their feed, every detail of the initial seconds of the video counts.

This strategy makes sense. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes content that keeps users on the site, rather than going to another site. Other sites like Instagram and Snapchat won’t even allow a brand to post links to outside sites, meaning that creation within the platform is the only option (the exception for Instagram is if the account is a business account.) Facebook also favors video posts over text or photo posts, which helps elevate Tasty’s view count. These videos work, and it’s only the beginning of Tasty’s plans.

Becoming the “Disney of Digital”

Tasty also has plans for expansion. The goal is to be the Disney of digital content: not only will they create recipe videos, but they want to leverage their brand to build the content, videos, and experiences for a society that is fixated on their phones. McCollum describes this age of new digital media as becoming a lifestyle brand: “It’s the same model as old-media networks — you make a movie that people love, and then you build a theme park and extend that to products and everything else.”

So far, Tasty has expanded to offer both a cooktop and a cookbook. The “Tasty One Top” is an app-connected device that retails at $149. The device can perform many cooking tasks such as searing or simmering. It’s meant to be used with the cookbook, which sold 100,000 copies in just the first few weeks. The cooktop and book prove that Tasty is more than just a popular Facebook page: it’s an empire showing that the future of digital is social media content. With over 40 billion views in just a little over two years, they’ve shown that content is king and people REALLY love to watch videos of a cheese-pull. There’s no telling what they’ll debut next, but I can guarantee that people won’t stop watching food videos for a while.

8 comments

  1. I loved this post!! I had never thought of the success of the Tasty empire as being attributed to its control of the “content pipe” – which is so accurate. I am really curious to see how Tasty plans to become the Disney of Digital – as more online food videos are popping up in attempt to mimic Tasty videos. Will it move into longer cooking how-tos? Or stick to their bread and butter of short clips that clearly keep an audience engaged. Nonetheless their success has been monumental so far and it will be interesting to see where it progresses!

  2. This is a really interesting example of horizontal integration – do you think Tasty is really playing to its own competitive advantage by producing a cooktop? I get that they have the same audience, but videos and a cookbook are a far cry from actual products.

  3. I agree with Adrienne — isn’t the cookbook potentially removing viewers who will instead turn to the cookbook for the same recipe (which in turn, could decrease views and prevalence on FB)? The “Disney” dream seems a bit naive/far-fetched, in my opinion — but I can’t tell from the linked article if that comparison is the journalist’s or Tasty’s own. Tasty is undoubtedly popular (and the psychology behind the video POV is super interesting), but I wonder if their desire to expand could dilute their brand.

  4. I can’t deny that I LOVE watching Tasty videos, but I will be really curious how they spin their current position into becoming the “Disney of Digital.” I wonder how they will make that jump from providing these videos to providing more physical products to make revenue. It will be really interesting to watch their growth pan out.

  5. First of all, this blog post made me SO hungry and forced me to peruse through the Tasty videos. Secondly, I found an interesting parallel between your blog post and the reading this week. Our reading this week discussed the importance and significance of the bond between a brand and it’s consumers. Like you cited in your blog, Tasty began with videos that cultivated a relationship with their followers on Instagram/Facebook (and other social media channels) and then chose to take the leap to profitable products, cooktop and cookbooks that have proven success due to their social media fan base.

  6. Nice post. I had always wondered what Tasty’s business model was, but now I know!

  7. I love watching Tasty videos! I never knew that some of them were sponsoring other brands– it makes sense and they did a good job because I had no idea it was an ad for something! My cousin actually starting making videos sort of like this a few years ago (before Tasty even existed I believe) to show his recipes. It’s crazy how much food has started to take over our social media– Instagram, and Facebook especially.

  8. Hi, Kaitlin! I love this post (probably partially because of all the delicious-looking food you included in it). I’ve been a big fan of Tasty videos and recently began using their app. I think the search, save, and step-by-step functions really take the Tasty experience to the next level and make cooking much more manageable for me (as well as countless others). I also love the different brands under Tasty like Goodful, Tasty Vegetarian, Tasty Junior, and foreign-based Tasty accounts. I think tending to all different food styles and trends keeps Tasty videos so addictive for so many.

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